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Blogging U. Guidelines and Code of Conduct

Welcome to Blogging U.! Each Blogging U. course has a private site, the Commons, just for participants of your course — you can ask questions, share works-in-progress, get feedback on your ideas, and build relationships with other bloggers. We hope you’ll find them fun and useful spaces!

Please take a few minutes to review our tips and Code of Conduct, and help us ensure that the Commons is a respectful, helpful space where all participants can get the help they need!

TL;DR! Keep things friendly, and keep things focused. Use the Commons to seek feedback or help on any blog, post, page, or issue related to the course you’re taking; don’t use the Commons to publish your original content, get technical help on unrelated issues, or promote your blog/posts.


Tips and Tools

Commons are, essentially, a group blog — but with some nifty added features to encourage collaboration. Here are a few tips for getting started:

  • commons

    Click on me to see a bigger image!

    Use the blank text field at the top of the page to start a new conversation (see left). Scroll down the site to read and respond to other conversations in progress.

  • Click the arrow under any post or comment to reply to it. Choosing “notify me of new posts via email” (or clicking the envelope icon under a comment) will send you notifications of replies to that specific conversation. You’ll receive notifications of replies to your own posts and comments automatically.
  • To share a link to your blog, paste the complete URL into your post; be sure it includes the http://. It will automatically become a working link when published. To turn specific words in your post into a clickable link, highlight the words, click the “link” icon, and paste the URL into the pop-up box that appears.
  • If you’d like to mention another participant, use @ and their username, like this: @michelleweber. This will send the person an email notification that you’ve mentioned them. Typing “@” will automatically pull up a drop-down menu of participants’ usernames to make it easier for you to mention people.


General Use Guidelines

Please do not post entire original pieces of writing or original photography on the Commons. All Blogging U. courses are designed to help you develop your own blogs, and assume that you are blogging or completing assignments on your personal blog. Original work published on the Commons will be removed by staff.

If you’d like specific feedback on your work, you have two options:

1. Copy and paste this template into a post, adding your details (see below). This makes it easier for everyone to respond to your request, and asking focused questions makes it more likely that you’ll get helpful comments.

Excerpt: A passage you’d like us to read and focus on. A paragraph or two is ideal.

Goal: A one-to-two line summary of the goal of the piece. What do you want to achieve?

My Questions: One or two questions. The more specific you are, the better.

Link (Optional): A URL for reference or background — it could be the published piece in full on your blog (if any), another post on your blog for more context, or something else.

2. Share a link to the published work on your own blog, along with a request for feedback. Paste the entire URL of your published post into the Commons, and it will automatically become a clickable link to your blog.

We recognize that you might want feedback on a work-in-progress, or want to run something by your peers before making it public. One option many participants find useful is publishing a post on your blog as “password protected.” Then, you can share the link on the Commons along with the password for the post. Course participants with the password will be able to view it and share their thoughts, but the general public will not. When you’re happy with the piece, update the visibility settings to make it public and share it with the world. Learn about post visibility settings.

Commons sites are meant to be a place for peer support and feedback. Staff will jump in an offer ideas and advice, but while we respond to all technical support needs, we’re unable to respond to every single request for feedback on your writing or photography.

That’s where you come in! Don’t just use the Commons to seek feedback, use it to give feedback — your co-bloggers will thank you (and will be more likely to return the favor!)

A few other posting guidelines:

  • If you’re not looking for specific feedback and would like to share a post from your blog or elsewhere that’s related to the week’s workshop, feel free to post a link with a brief description of what you’re sharing, and why.
  • Unrelated or promotional content will be removed.
  • Please don’t share links to already-published posts that were not published in relation to the course, unless they provide needed context for a question or piece you’re working on. The Commons is not a space for promoting your existing content.
  • Don’t “link and run” — publish a link to a post with no context or questions. Using the designated tag for your course will allow other participants to find you easily via the WordPress.com Reader.
  • Please don’t post images or videos; the Commons sites are very active, and adding media slows them down for those of us with slower internet connections.

If you share unrelated content, publish original content to the Commons, or use it as a space to share links to older, non-course posts, this content will be removed from the site. The first three times, you’ll receive a warning — we know there’s a learning curve here! After the fourth violation, you’ll be removed from the site. Feel free to continue working on the assignments on your own; they’re all public on The Daily Post.

Above all, please keep comments respectful. We love positive and productive discussions; promote a kind and friendly atmosphere where all participants feel welcome.


Getting Technical Support

Each Blogging U. Commons is staffed by one or more Happiness Engineers, our WordPress.com support specialists. Feel free to ask for any assistance you need as you work through the course assignments

To ensure that our Happiness Engineers can be as helpful as possible, it’s useful to include the following information in your request:

  • What is your goal?
  • What is not working as you expected?
  • What, if anything, have you done to try to solve the problem?
  • What are the applicable links to areas of your site that will assist us in troubleshooting your issue?

The more detail you give, the more quickly and comprehensively someone can respond.

To ensure that a staff member sees your request, you can use the “@” mention function, which will notify them of your post. (For convenience, staff usernames are listed in the sidebar.) Once you post a request, please be patient — depending on the time of day and volume of requests, it may take a little time for you to get a response; there’s no need to post a second time. If your request is urgent, feel free to contact support directly or post on the support forums.

To make sure that all participants can get the help they need, please:

  • Keep your requests focused on one or two issues — request for assistance with a long list of questions are difficult to respond to and make for unwieldy conversations.
  • If you have many questions, a serious technical issue, or questions unrelated to what we’re working on in the course, please try our traditional support channels. Contact support or use the support forums.
  • At their discretion, Happiness Engineers may move your request into one of the traditional support forums, particularly if your questions are outside the scope of the course. This helps ensure that all participants who need course-related support can get the help they need on the Commons.
  • Feel free to answer one another’s questions! After all, main purpose of the Commons is peer feedback and support.
  • Make use of the WordPress.com support documents — chances are, the answer you need is already in there.


Repeating or Taking Multiple Courses

All Blogging U. courses are free and open to the public, and you’re free to take multiple courses or take the same course more than once — sometimes life gets in the way, and you need to give something another try!

If you do repeat a course, we ask that you work through the same assignments as the other participants. If you’ve already completed an assignment or don’t feel a need a revisit it, spend some time in the Commons supporting those who are tackling it for the first time.

If you choose not to work on an assignment or offer feedback on the Commons, that’s just fine. However, do not use the Commons to work through or seek staff support on unrelated blogging goals. Keeping the Commons focused is what makes it so useful for so many. For other feedback needs, we have an open feedback thread each week on The Daily Post called the Community Pool — you can share posts and ask for support on any issue there. If you continually use the Commons to seek feedback or technical support on projects outside the scope of the course, you’ll receive three warnings; after the fourth instance, you’ll be removed from the site.

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